Writing this on the eve of St Patrick’s day, thoughts turn to the wisdom of the Celtic Christians and their awareness of Christ present with them in the ordinary circumstances of their days.
“The path I walk, Christ walks it”, Columba reminds us. The Celtic notion of journeying is best captured by the word wandering. It’s a positive use of the word, hinting at surprise and delight. It also highlights the potential vulnerability of the journey: destination unknown.
The Celtic monks pushed the word to its limits, journeying to the edges of countries, to wild islands battered by turbulent storms. This was to test the depth of their desire to be vulnerable to God’s will, the extent of their willingness to walk any road wherever it might lead. Today we don’t try so hard to seek out wildernesses; yet still they can find us. Some of us, for some of the time, lead lives battered by the winds of tragedy and change, wandering through stressful situations, some our own doing, many beyond our control.
If we’d been on that Emmaus Road two thousand years ago, we might have spotted the two disciples, perhaps noticed them looking anxious and agitated. A third man joins them. They don’t recognise him and from where we stand there’s nothing to distinguish him either — a man on a walk on a road. Yet something in the way he explains the scriptures calms them. They want him – urge him – to stay with them. In these difficult times, he seems to be the kind of company they need.
Good company on the road is a vital part of good wandering. When the road bends and the horizon disappears from sight Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure ( Ecclesiasticus 6:14). In the middle of our own anxiety and agitations, as we wonder about what is happening and what God is doing, we can miss the treasure … because it can seem so ordinary … a man on a walk on a road. The road is ours. Wherever we wander he is there, faithful friend, sturdy shelter, someone to turn to and to talk to. The path I walk, Christ walks it.